cover image The Werewolf of Bamberg: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

The Werewolf of Bamberg: A Hangman’s Daughter Tale

Oliver Pötzsch, trans. from the German by Lee Chadeayne. Mariner, $18 trade paper (624p) ISBN 978-0-544-61094-1

Pötzsch effectively conjures up an atmosphere of claustrophobia and paranoia in 17th-century Germany in his fifth whodunit featuring the Kuisl family (after 2013’s The Poisoned Pilgrim). Jakob Kuisl, the executioner of Schongau, has traveled to Bamberg with his family to attend the wedding of his estranged brother, Bartholomaus, that town’s hangman. They find Bamberg in the grip of fear after several prominent citizens have disappeared, and a wolf-like beast has been sighted within and without the town’s walls. The descriptions of the creature lead to suspicions that a werewolf is responsible for the disappearances and for the human remains that are subsequently discovered. Mounting hysteria leads to the establishment of an inquisitorial commission that’s reminiscent of an earlier body charged with eradicating a supposed coven of witches in the area. The tension, as the Kuisl family finds itself in the midst of the hunt, is palpable, leading to a cleverly clued solution. (Dec.)